Hamilton

Hamilton school board cutting 173 courses after provincial changes

Hamilton's public school board says it will no longer offer 173 courses planned for next year because of provincial class size changes, budget cuts and declining enrolment.

Courses in arts, humanities bear brunt of cuts

The decision means 1,453 high school students won't be able to take courses they originally selected, says the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board. (iStock)

Hamilton's public school board says it will no longer offer 173 courses planned for next year because of provincial class size changes, budget cuts and declining enrolment.

The cuts most heavily affect classes in the arts, Canada and world studies, and the humanities/family studies, making up 91 of the withdrawn courses. Courses in math, science, technology, physical education and English are among the other areas getting chopped.

The decision means 1,453 high school students won't be able to take courses they originally chose, the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board on Tuesday.

The board said 115 of these courses had fewer than 10 enrolled students and may have been removed in a "typical year."

Below is a breakdown of which courses were cut: 

  • 29 Arts
  • 1 Business
  • 31 Canada and World Studies
  • 11 English
  • 6 French
  • 2 Guidance Studies
  • 31 Humanities/Family Studies
  • 4 Interdisciplinary Studies
  • 10 Languages (classical and modern)
  • 8 Math
  • 1 Native Studies
  • 18 Physical Education
  • 4 Science
  • 7 Technological Studies

"We protected as many courses as we could," said board chair Alex Johnstone, redirecting $500,000 of contingency funds to preserve 34 classes. This means "5.66 teachers who are no longer declared redundant," she said.

A number of "greatest concern" areas were preserved, said the HWDSB, including alternative education programming for at-risk learners, Core French, and Grade 12 college entrance math and sciences.

Specialist High Skills Majors, International Baccalaureate (IB), ESL and French Immersion programs will also continue, but with fewer course options. 

The decision comes after controversial changes to Ontario's education system, including a government plan to increase high school class sizes from an average of 22 to 28 over the next four years.

The HWDSB has already announced it will layoff 99 teachers after cuts to provincial funding. 

More cuts in the future

Johnstone said they're "extremely concerned" about the future, as class size averages continue to increase.

"The impact that was felt this year will be much greater going forward," she said.

The cuts might mean students will need to travel across the city for a course, said board chair Alex Johnstone, or do a class online.

Others simply won't be able to take the class.

Losing such courses mean students won't be introduced to subject areas "that may shape and influence their choices moving forward," David Lawson, a career educational planning specialist, previously told CBC. 

While all school "pathways"  — Apprenticeship, College, Community, University, and Work — were protected, the board says all pathways were impacted by the course cuts.

This is the first time the board has tracked withdrawn courses, said Johnstone, so they cannot compare to previous years.